WHEN IS A BBC Radio 4 news report about Tower Hamlets Council not accurate? The answer is: at 7.45am on Saturday, 30th September 2023, when the Today programme broadcast an item about a women’s football in Tower Hamlets.
The report stated that Vicky Park Rangers FC, a football club for young women aged 12-16, had not been able to book a training slot for its teams. The presenter interviewed Taner Baycanli, who describes himself as the (Vicky Park Rangers) Club Chairman. He told how the Club had booked a slot but then withdrew it and offered alternative slots that were not suitable. It was not made clear whether the report was live or not – but the presenter certainly rushed Taner and cut him off as soon as he had reported the basics.
One of the reasons why the presenter cut Taner up was to read a statement from Tower Hamlets Council. It was read in a hurried fashion, and it sounded like a summary of a longer statement, but the gist of it was: Tower Hamlets fully supports women’s participation in sport. They were offered a different slot on the same pitch or a nearby Council-run Leisure base turned down by the Club.
So far, so good… so what’s the problem? The problem is a statement from the said Taner Baycanli which had been circulating on social media in Tower Hamlets for some hours before the Today programme aired. The statement revealed that the booking issue had been resolved some twelve hours earlier – at 7.52pm on Friday, 29th September, to be precise.
The statement went on to say that Mayor Lutfur Rahman and intervened and ensured that a satisfactory compromise was found.
It seems that the BBC would prefer to run a negative story about Tower Hamlets rather than an accurate one. Why the Council, when asked for a statement for broadcast, did not clarify that the matter had been resolved is not clear.
We know that we do not have enough pitches and sports spaces which are available at rates local teams with young players can afford to meet demand in Tower Hamlets. We can only hope that as many teams as possible can be accommodated – and can now concentrate on the game they play and those who play it.
●We approached the BBC and Tower Hamlets Council for comment, but at the time of publication neither has yet supplied a statement for publication.
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